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I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Dan – W Jefferson, OH

A: Though it resembles a pond weed, chara—also called muskgrass or skunkweed—is actually a type of bottom-growing algae that can efficiently take over your pond or lake.

Can’t tell the difference between the two? Here are some tips to help identify and treat the chara.

IDing Chara

Pull out some of the plant in question and take a close look at it. Does it have these characteristics?

  • No Roots: Unlike pond weeds with traditional leaves and well-established root systems, chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. Instead, it has six to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem.
  • Distinct Odor: Next, smell it. Does it have a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell? If so, it’s probably chara. Simply walking close to or around your pond will tell you right away if you have a chara problem, particularly late in the pond season.
  • Crunchy Texture: When you rub the plant between your fingers, what does it feel like? Chara has a crunchy or gritty-type texture that’s different than pond weeds.
  • Quickly Disintegrates: Finally, when you leave it on the dock, what happens to it after a few hours? If it almost disintegrates after a few hours, you’ve got chara.

Treating Chara

Once you determine it’s chara and not a pond weed, you’ll need to treat it with an algaecide rather than an herbicide. We prefer to use Pond Logic® Algae Defense® Algaecide, a fast-acting liquid formula, but use Cutrine®-Plus Granular as for chara growing in water deeper than 3 feet.

About two weeks after treating the chara, we suggest to use a Pond Rake to rake out as much as you can Doing this will help you gain control relatively quickly. (Important tip: Do not rake out chara before treating it because it will spread).

Pond Talk: What kinds of problems do you have with pond weeds or algae?

Eliminate Bottom Growing Chara - Cutrine®-Plus Granular

How do I know if my pond is covered in pollen or algae? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How do I know if my pond is covered in pollen or algae?

Q: How do I know if my pond is covered in pollen or algae?

John – Noblesville, IN

A: Get on your sleuthing hat. Now that summer has arrived, the warm days can trigger both algae blooms and pollen bursts from flowering plants—both of which obscure the clean, sparkling water in your pond or lake. In order to clear things up, you need to first figure out whether it’s algae or pollen. Here are two clues to follow …

TEXTURE

Run your hand over the water surface and see what happens. Does the discoloration break apart at the surface or does it go deeper?

Algae that forms in ponds comes in two types—planktonic and filamentous. Planktonic algae is suspended in the water column, giving the water a pea-soup like appearance. Filamentous algae looks like long threads that grow from the bottom up and intertwine to form mats, commonly referred to as pond scum. When you run your fingers through the water, neither type of algae breaks apart.

Pollen, however, will break apart when agitated. It simply settles on the pond’s surface, giving it an oil slick-like appearance, and does not sink into the water column unless a heavy rain comes through.

COLOR

Next, take a close look at the color of what’s floating on your pond. Pollen, planktonic algae and filamentous algae can give a lake’s surface an off-colored hue.

The planktonic algae, which are microscopic plants, and the filamentous algae strings and mats color the water different shades of green, blue-green, brown or variations in between.

The pollen, however, often tints the water lighter green, yellow or white depending on what plants are releasing pollen spores into the air. Your deducing process can become complicated, however, if you have a combination of pollen sitting on top of a layer of algae!

IT’S ELEMENTARY!

Whether you’ve decided it’s algae or pollen, we have a solution for you: aeration.

A subsurface Airmax® Aeration System keeps pond and lake water circulating, which prevents the algae from forming and the pollen from coalescing into an unsightly slick. It also pumps oxygen into the water, which keeps your plants and fish happy and healthy.

Above the water, a Kasco Decorative Fountain will keep pollen at bay by spraying wet stuff up and over the pond’s surface, causing ripples that prevent the slicks from forming. Plus, they add movement and drama to your pond.

Pond Talk: How do you break up the pollen that forms on your pond or lake?

Add Movement & Drama To Your Pond - Kasco Decorative Fountain

How do I know which chemicals will treat my weeds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How do I know which chemicals will treat my weeds?

Q: How do I know which chemicals will treat my weeds?

Henry – Markesan, WI

A: Weeds. Whether they’re algae or submerged, floating or shoreline plants, they’re a nuisance—not to mention a potential hazard to your game fish and pond or lake health. In order to manage these green invaders, you should get to know them a little better. Don’t worry: you don’t need to be a Master Gardener to identify and treat them. Here’s all you need to know:

1. Know the Weeds

Before you start dumping chemicals on the weeds in your pond, you’ll first need to understand the different types of aquatic weeds that pop up in lakes or ponds. There are four basic categories:

  • Algae. Algae comes in three basic types: Planktonic, which causes the pea soup look in your water; filamentous, which creates blankets of stringy stuff or pond scum; and chara or muskgrass, which smells like musky garlic. When you take a closer look, these weeds have no defined root systems, unlike their other weed cousins.
  • Submerged. Submerged weeds live underwater. This group of troublemakers includes bladderwort, several types of pondweed, watermilfoil, parrot feather and hydrilla. They look like a typical plant, with leaves, stems and root systems.
  • Floating. Floating weeds generally reside in shallow water and have root systems that reach into the water or down into the soil, allowing their leaves and flowers to rise to the surface. They include watermeal, duckweed, azolla and even water lilies. When not kept in check, these floaters can take over a pond in no time.
  • Emergent. Emergent weeds live along your lake’s shoreline. These plants like to keep their feet wet; their foliage, leaves and flowers live out of water, but their root systems prefer wet, almost completely saturated soil. Emergent weeds include cattails, phragmites, purple loosestrife and bulrush.

2. ID the Weed

Once you identify the category of weed you’re dealing with, head over to our Weed Control Guide and try to match weed with the picture. For example, is it a floating plant with a root system? Then you’re dealing with a type of floating weed. Is it completely submerged? Then you’re dealing with a type of submerged weed.

Each weed included in our Weed Control Guide will describe the best treatment options to manage it. Not sure of the weed? Snap a close-up photo and e-mail it to us at pondhelp@thepondguy.com. Of course, you can always call us toll-free for advice, too, at 866-POND-HELP (766-3435)!

3. Treat the Weed

Once you’ve ID’d the weed, treat it with its appropriate herbicide, remembering to always follow label instructions when applying it to your pond or lake. If you have fish in your pond, we suggest treating in sections as sudden changes in water conditions can affect aquatic species. Treat 1/4 – 1/2 of pond at a time, while waiting 10-14 days between treatments.

4. Remove the Remains

Once the chemicals start working to kill the weeds, make sure you remove the decomposing foliage with a weed rake, like the Jenlis WeedRazer® Aquatic Weed Cutter. Why? Because anything dead will turn into muck and start the weed/algae cycle again—which is not something you want to happen, right?

Pond Talk: What tips do you have for managing aquatic weeds?

Broad Spectrum Pondweed Control - Pond Logic® Ultra PondWeed Defense®

I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape?

Q: I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape?

Kent – Maurice, LA

A: Congratulations! You just purchased your dream property with rolling fields, lush green trees and a gorgeous lake or pond – or at least that’s how you remembered it when you signed the loan documents.

But once you move in and take a closer look at the situation, you realize that gorgeous lake is an overgrown nightmare. Believe it or not, this is not an uncommon scenario. Many new land owners purchase property with a lake or a pond only to discover it hasn’t been well maintained.

Of course, you want to reclaim that overgrown pond and turn it into a useable recreation or livestock watering area, but where do you begin? Check out these six tips for whipping your lake back into shape.

1. Evaluate the Situation

Your first task is to evaluate the pond itself and record what you find. What is its size, shape and depth? Is there an abundance of weeds? Can you find an aeration system? Are there fish living in the pond? Jot down as many details as you can, because they will be important when deciding what kinds of product to use to regain control of your lake. The more you know, the better.

2. Install Aeration

Next, install an aeration system. Aeration, which circulates oxygen throughout the water column, will go a long way toward improving the health of your pond while you regain control of the habitat and work to maintain it. Plus, your fish and the natural bacteria living in the pond rely on the mechanical water turnover to replenish the oxygen supply and remove harmful gasses like ammonia.

3. Identify Weeds and Treat Them

What weeds are growing in your pond? To help you identify the greenery and determine whether they’re beneficial plants or nuisances, check out The Pond Guy® weed control guide. Once you have the plants ID’d, you can then select the proper chemicals and the right amount to handle the job. Start treating the weeds with a suitable algaecide or herbicide once your aeration system is well established.

4. Rake Out Dead Debris

Yes, it seems like a tough job, but you will need to rake out and remove dead debris, like fallen leaves, cattails and other decomposing organic materials with a weed cutter and rake, like the Pond Logic® Pond Rake and Weed Cutter. The hard work will pay off in the long run. The more large debris you remove, the less work your muck-destroying beneficial bacteria and aeration system will need to do – and the faster your pond will get back into tip-top shape.

5. Maintain, Maintain, Maintain

To keep your pond or lake on the fast track to being clean, clear and usable, you must keep up on the maintenance chores. Remove the years of pond muck buildup with natural bacteria or phosphate binder, like those found in Pond Logic® ClearPAC® PLUS pond care package. Continue to remove dead and decomposing debris as your herbicides kill nuisance weeds. Add pond dye for aesthetic appeal and to slow algae growth. Now that you have the overgrown pond under control, don’t let it get away from you!

6. Be Patient and Persistent

Despite your efforts, it will take time to reclaim your pond or lake – so be realistic about your expectations. Consider the pond’s age and the amount of debris it has accumulated over the years. If it took a decade or more for the pond to look it way it did, it will take more than one afternoon of hard work to make it pristine again! Be patient and persistent. You’ll have that gorgeous pond in no time.

Pond Talk: If you’ve purchased property with a pond or lake, what kind of condition was it in and what did you do to make it usable?

Airmax Aeration Systems - Reduce 90 Percent of Nutrients in 90 Days

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?
Kandy – Portland, OR

Phragmites are the worst kind of uninvited guest: once it makes its appearance, it’s too late to give it the slip. For those who have experienced phragmites, they’ll attest to its tenacity. They’ll also attest to its heartiness. Unlike the plants you’re actually trying to grow in your pond, phragmites requires no care and feeding at all – and it’s remarkably adept at withstanding any effort to slow it down. .

Characterized by a green stalk with purple/tan plumes in late July, the majority of each phragmites plant is underground. As a result, by the time you actually see a phragmites plant in your pond, its root system is well established – laying the groundwork to take over the entire body of water. In fact, phragmites plants continue to spread throughout their life, sending stalks skyward at a blistering pace. And once the stalks reach maturity – typically from early to late summer – the plants double their efforts at pond domination by distributing seeds throughout the watershed. Phragmites, it seems, is quite capable at taking care of itself.

When taken alone, phragmites might actually be considered attractive. Unfortunately, it has no interest in sharing its turf. Through its aggressive growth, phragmites chokes out native plant species in short order, and can transform an entire pond’s flora over the course of a single season. And while it’s nearly impossible to eliminate phragmites once it’s established, our Kraken Aquatic Herbicide and Cide-Kick Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Airmax Specialty Pressurized Pond Chemical Tank-Sprayer or our 4-Gallon Backpack Pond Sprayer – can significantly impair root system growth, while leaving room for the plants you’d like to keep around.

After herbicides are applied, many pond owners are eager to eliminate both existing growth and dead stalks left over from the previous season. Our Aquatic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Aquatic Weed Rake helps to remove mess. In some instances, pond users also use controlled burns – after herbicide application – to remove standing plants. While this can be effective, it should never be practiced apart from herbicide use. Some evidence suggests that burning alone – without the use of herbicides – can actually increase the density of phragmites plants.

Good luck with your battle against phragmites. Stay vigilant, stay focused, and act quickly to curb new growth. The fight may last a long time – but the results will be worth the effort.

Pond Talk: Have you battled phragmites in your pond?

Kraken and Cide-Kick Combo

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond?

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond?
Ryan – Dallas, TX

As we progress through spring and into summer, it is important that you know how to treat algae growth should you experience an algae bloom. Persistent algae blooms will still flex their muscles even if you maintain a clean pond. There are really two approaches, a reactive approach-treating growth, and a proactive approach-treating the source.

Reactive Approach-Treating the Growth
You can provide a temporary relief from algae by treating these algae break-outs with an algaecide like Pond Logic Algae Defense or Cutrine Plus Granular. It is best to treat the algae first, making contact between the chemical and the target algae as much as possible and then raking out the debris once dead. If the algae mat is more then an inch or two thick, you may want to rake out some of the algae before treating. To apply use a Tank Sprayer or Hand Spreader to kill off the remaining algae particulate. Once the treated algae dies and browns out, remove the debris with an Airmax Lake Rake so it does not sink the bottom of the pond and decay, encouraging new growth.

When selecting the type algaecide to use you will want to observe any use restrictions the product may carry. Algae Defense and Cutrine Plus granular are a popular choice as they do not carry any water use restrictions. . These products do however contain chelated copper which will not harm the pond or most common gamefish but are not as friendly to koi, goldfish or trout if carbonate hardness is less than 50ppm. You can test your carbonate hardness before treatment with a carbonate hardness test kit. If these types of fish inhabit your pond and you are looking for another option you may want to consider using Hydrothol 191. This product does carry some water use restrictions however it does not contain copper.

Proactive Approach-Treating the Source
Proactively treating your pond before you actually experience algae blooms can save you time and money in the long run. Algae blooms tend to be a symptom of a much larger problem – a dirty pond. By using only algaecides for pond maintenance you allow your pond to continue to accumulate organic debris and fuel for bigger and more stubborn outbreaks.
If your water temperatures are already around 50 degrees or above you can enlist the help of beneficial bacteria and natural water treatments to reduce organic debris and bind phosphates. Pond Logic PondClear can be used to treat your entire water column and attack floating suspended organics that cause turbid water. Pond Logic MuckAway sinks to the bottom of your pond to eliminate pond muck. Pond Logic EcoBoost naturally binds the phosphates helps sink floating particulates to increase water clarity. EcoBoost also introduces trace minerals into your pond which improves the health of your game fish. Remember to also run your Airmax Aeration System. Aerating your pond will ensure a healthy and well balanced pond for your fish during times of added stress while treating for algae, as well as to promote beneficial bacteria like PondClear to continue to breakdown any debris you may have missed while raking.

Pond Talk: Have you already experienced an algae bloom in your pond this season?

Pond Logic Algae Defense

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?
Bryce – Grand Rapids, MN

Your gamefish and frogs aren’t the only ones hiding from the cold winter weather. Even your emergent weeds have developed a defense mechanism to survive over the winter. Being perennial plants, they may appear to die when the weather cools down but they are really just buying time until the spring thaw when they will return in all of their glory. Whether or not this is good news depends on how you feel about the presence of these particular plants in your pond.

Plants like Cattails tend to disperse their seeds as fall approaches. As the weather continues to cool the leaves and the stalk of the plant wilt and die only to decompose and become fertilizer for the roots, or rhizomes, of the plant come spring. While the exposed areas of the plant are dying off, the roots of the plant begin pulling in nutrients to store before going into dormancy for the winter. As these roots can be considered the heart of the plant, cutting down Cattail and Phragmite reeds will not discourage new plant growth in the spring.

If you like having Cattails or Phragmites around your pond then nothing is needed to help them through the winter as they are naturally prepared to make a comeback. If you are not a fan of these emergent plants you can make it harder for them to grow back by physically removing the plant roots or by using pond care products to remove their food source and kill the plants including the roots. Applying aquatic herbicides like Avocet PLX while Cattails and Phragmites are still active is infinitely easier than trying to pull their extensive root system from the pond. Avocet PLX is absorbed by the plant and carried to its roots effectively killing the entire weed. Since you don’t want to encourage new growth you will want to remove any potential “fertilizers” in the form of plant decay and muck. Once dead cut and drag any dead reeds and leaves away from the pond and burn or compost them. Using a Rake and Weed Cutter will make short work of these shoreline cleanups and give you the advantage for next season.

Pond Talk: How do your emergent plants react to the cold winter weather?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

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